Food trucks in rural areas eyed

MOUNT DESERT — Mobile vending units, commonly known as food trucks, would be allowed to operate on private property in the town’s rural/woodland zoning districts under an ordinance amendment proposed by the land use advisory committee.

Currently, food trucks are allowed to operate only on public property in the shoreland commercial district from June 1 to Sept. 30. The town can issue a maximum of five mobile vending licenses each year. But only the Northeast Harbor Marina has been deemed suitable for mobile vending, and only three spaces there are set aside for food trucks.

The town’s two rural/woodland zoning districts together account for nearly half of the land area in Mount Desert that is not part of Acadia National Park. The land use zoning ordinance (LUZO) describes the rural/woodland districts as “areas where retaining the rural or wooded character of the district is desired” and where uses consistent with that character are allowed. “Minimum lot sizes shall be two or three acres as deemed appropriate.”

The proposed LUZO amendment would allow food truck operators to apply to the planning board for approval to do business on private property in the rural/woodland districts.

“All business activity related to a mobile food vendor shall be of a temporary nature, the duration of which shall not exceed 120 days per year,” the draft amendment reads.

The hours of operation would be limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and no alcohol sales or service would be allowed.

The draft LUZO amendment provides that the Mount Desert Police Department may “close down a mobile vending unit where, in the opinion of the department, the unit is causing or contributing to an imminent public safety hazard.”

The land use advisory committee also is proposing to clarify that mobile food vendors are allowed to operate on private property anywhere in town on a short-term basis without a permit or license. This would apply primarily to businesses catering private events.

As for food trucks at the Northeast Harbor Marina, the land use advisory committee recommends an ordinance amendment requiring vendors to file with the town a “certificate of insurance that evidences public liability insurance of $1 million and naming the town as an additional insured [party].”

The planning board has scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 27 on proposed new ordinances and ordinance amendments, including those having to do with mobile vending. If endorsed by the planning board, the board of selectmen would decide whether to place the ordinance changes on the warrant for the May 7 town meeting.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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